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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2003
As a graphic artist with a severe case of left-brain subject-avoidance, I approached this book on building Dynamic Web Applications in Dreamweaver MX 2004 with a goodly amount of apprehension. Jeffery Bardzell's intelligent, engaging style allayed all of that in the first few paragraphs. His presentation is clear, direct, and sets you up to win.
The book is a healthy, 16 lessons long, with each lesson progressing through short steps that are visually reinforced by screenshots. By the end of the book you will have upgraded a static HTML site filled with obsolete code, to a standard compliant, CSS formatted, dynamic, XHTML site, and will have mastered the fundamentals of dynamic application development. I can't wait to go out and develop my first database-driven site! Thank you, Jeffery.
Linda Rathgeber
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
I bought this book upon seeing all of the wonderful reviews it was given here on Amazon. I had been designing web pages professionally for about a year, and was ready to make the move to dynamic development. I had only a little knowledge of web programming and attendant technologies and thought this would offer the best place to begin. Unfortuntely for me, it was a little too simplistic.
The book is mapped from beginning to end on an imaginary site, Newland Tours; the reader follows along, doing the steps given, to turn the site from static into dynamic. The problem for me was two-fold. I learn by understanding the fundamentals, and theory, first, and then by trial-and-error. This book allows for neither.
The author barely scrapes the theory or "why" behind any of what is shown; in fact at one point he states that it would be beyond the scope to do so - which is precisely the trouble with much of the book, everything one might want to know seems to be beyond the scope. Much of the book is "do this, do that, save and close." If you make a mistake, you can fix it easily enough by loading the completed page - but this proves to be a double-edged sword. Since the fundamentals of structure and syntax have not been thoroughly realized, the reader may feel as if he has no idea of what went wrong in the process, and it becomes tempting to load the finished pages and move on. In fact, the author encourages this in several spots. So those like me, who like to explore and learn from our mistakes are rather left by the wayside, ironically, in the book's attempt to make itself more newbie-friendly.
Additionally, the pages are bloated with disruptive screenshots, but the code is often obscurely placed, with its attendant notes even more buried inside a paragraph of "advice." This advice follows every single step in the book, but is so overwritten that it fails to convey its intentions in many cases. A paragraph may read like this: "You have to ... You have to ... You have to ... And you have to ..." Again, for a person who learns by trial-and-error, this is slog-through material.
Finally, it was an unfortunate publishing choice (and perhaps not the author's) to try and cover all three scripting languages in one introductory book, particularly one so overly simplified as this - in fact it doesn't make any sense at all. It's akin to trying to learn algebra, geometry, and trigonometry concurrently. It's confusing, annoying, and most often results in skipping or skimming over large chunks of text, even pages and sections. The fact that every one of the author's examples is given in ASP, and that PHP is on several important occassions almost ignored (the form-to-mail script, for instance, is hugely underwritten, with the flimsy excuse that it is too involved to go into) doesn't help.
If you -really, really, really- are clueless in the realm of dynamic web programming, and you like to have someone map everything out for you, and you don't necessarily feel the need to apply this to your own site, but rather just want a general overview to gain some familiarity, this book will be useful (if not helpful). However, if you are actually hoping to build your own site dynamically after going through this book, you might want to consider buying one of these, instead:
Sam's Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL, and Apache All-in-One ;
PHP and MySQL Web Development, by Welling/Thomson, second ed.
-- or any other book suited to your language of choice (ASP, CFML).
Both are much more informative and far more open-ended.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2004
This is a fantastic book that teaches you how to use Dreamweaver MX 2004 more effectively when coding dynamic database-driven Web sites in one of the 3 programming languages covered (ASP, ColdFusion or PHP). I thoroughly enjoyed Jeffery Bardzell's writing style, allowing me to build on the theories presented, repetition of code and Web standards best practices.

There were a few errors throughout the book, but they were mostly typos. I did not have any trouble with the code presented in each lesson. Also, I was able to complete the entire book without referring to any of the code in the completed files folder. The author also takes the time to clearly list and explain the meaning of each step in technical terms without losing the reader.

If you are new to building dynamic database-driven Web sites, then pick up a copy of this book. I guarantee you will have a better understanding and develop clear coding concepts while working through each lesson. As an added bonus, you will build several useful applications (i.e. search interface, authenticating users, basic content management system, etc.) that you can use as a template for building more complicated applications.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2004
I had little knowledge of coding with PHP before I bought this book, and that's precisely the reason I picked it up. I figured that I should learn how to use PHP specifically with my wonderful Dreamweaver MX, and this is the perfect book for that. It is excellent for allowing the lightbulb in your head to turn on and gets ideas and possibilities flowing in your head in only the first few chapters. I couldn't wait to start on my own site.
Within one week, I had finished the book and made large advancements in designing my own PHP based site and am loving it. It is great to go back to for reference on the hand-coding, and has allowed me to use the skills learned, twist them around and, with the helm of DW, to develop better applications. I have had this book for three weeks and it has let me rocket past my expectations.
The only problem is that I wish there were more. Now that I understand the basics, I would like the "advanced" copy of the book. I want to know more about how the PHP relates with the SQL, and samples of how could go further into my development. The book lacks on "the second step", but I suppose that would require a second book.
One reviewer stated that the book allows for no trial and error, I believe that the trial error should take place after you're finished with the book, not while reading it. Once you get to toying with your own site is when you make the errors, and then you can go back to the book and find out where you went wrong. Great book, don't hesitate, buy it if you're a beginner...it's worth it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2004
I bought this book because Macromedia didn't provide any manuals with their Studio MX 2004, other than some useless PDF files, and I wanted to know how to use the new MX 2004 version. I thought that this book would have the usual crud with a few pearls of information that in the end would probably make it worth the price. Instead, I found a book that is pure gold. It's well written and if you stay with it, it will teach you quite a bit. If I was to teach a course on Dreamweaver MX 2004, this would be my manual.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2004
The purpose of this book (in my opinion) is to teach you how to use Dreamweaver MX 2004 to create dynamic (database-driven) web sites. It doesn't teach you all there is to know about Dreamweaver, about scripting languages, or about databases. Rather, it shows you how they all tie together. Yes, it will teach you a little about Dreamweaver, because you will be using it for all the lessons. Yes, it will teach you a little about scripting languages, and yes it will teach you a little about databases. You don't need to already know these things to do the exercises or understand the lessons, because the author clearly explains everything you do. However, these topics are covered more completely in more specialized books.

What this book does is show you how you can use Dreamweaver to accomplish a complete database-driven web site. Keeping this in mind, I thought the book was excellent.

The book takes you through the complete process of starting with a simple static site and converting it to a dynamic site (a challenge many web developers face). The first half of the book introduces you to the site and has you converting it from HTML to XHTML. This is a simple task, and Dreamweaver has a function to do that automatically, but the author here shows you exactly what needs to be done and how to do it manually by using search and replace. He then shows how to convert the site to use a simple CSS file. He shows how to use forms, how to pass data between pages, and how to use scripting languages to build a simple calculator.

Okay, you say, that's pretty basic stuff, and I may skip those chapters. That's what I said, but I decided to read every word and do every exercise anyway. I'm glad I did, because there are many gems buried there. Dreamweaver can make even simple tasks more efficient with its built-in capabilities that I didn't know existed even though I've been using Dreamweaver for years. So, skip the first few lessons if you want, but I suggest you do it all.

The last half of the book has you working with database functions and learning how Dreamweaver ties these together with forms and GET/POST value passing. Dreamweaver really has some fantastic capabilities in this area and it seems that you can create complete database-driven pages with just a few clicks of the mouse. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but Dreamweaver does easily generate complex code and puts it into your page for you. The author shows you how to use those capabilities.

Finally, in the last lesson, you generate the pages that update the database by just using the scripting language functions, and not using the Dreamweaver capabilities. Whatever you do, be sure to do this lesson, as it shows you all the work Dreamweaver is doing in the background for you.

Armed with the knowledge from this book, and the books I already have on Dreamweaver, HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL, I feel I can now attack a dynamic site. When I get in trouble, I can refer to the snippets of code in the book to help me get on track.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2005
This book is excellent! We highly recommend it. Jeffery Bardzell handles the matter of building a dynamic website with exact step by step examples and builds the sample Newland Tours website. This book is identical to Macromedia's "Dreamweaver MX Dynamic Applications" training from the source, except that this book has PHP references in it as well. Therefore if you have that book, you don't need this one and visa versa.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2004
I decided, after many hours of reviewing "canned" scripts for a voting application, I had to learn how to develop my own dynamic applications in order to achieve required voting features. As a longtime user of Dreamweaver for static HTML applications, I purchased the referenced course with the expectation that I would be able to understand the concepts and learn the basic fundamentals of dynamic web site development. I had little understanding of data bases or server side programming languages (I learned Fortran eons ago).

This step by step guide took me through the development from a sample HTML 4 static site to an XMHTL compliant, fully dynamic web site not only using the built-in support functions of Dreamweaver, but hand coding the scripting language and SQL commands as well. Spread out over several months, I completed the course cover-to-cover. At each step I made sure I understood the concepts of dynamically modifying static HTML with the selected server side language and the SQL required for retrieving data from/inserting data into the data base. You were also instructed how to setup a "localhost" development environment, wherein each step could be tested immediately upon completion. I used the PHP/MYSQL model since it was available on my host ISP. But during the course, I also setup both .asp and coldfusion (.cfm) server models.

This learning by doing course reinforces the concepts and fundamentals that just reading alone could never accomplish. Once armed with this basic knowledge, I began to develop my customized voting site. And, using online tutorials, bridging gaps in the basics of PHP and SQL syntax. During coding, the manual proved to be an invaluable resource, both from a conceptual and a practical (coding) point of view, although the complexity of the requirements required significantly more php coding than in the course.

Now that I have completed my program, and it is functioning flawlessly online, I could not have done it without taking this course. There may be similar courses available, but by using the features of Dreamweaver in conjunction with the tutorial, yields a superior teaching tool that reading books alone cannot provide. And Dreamweaver is exactly as the name implies, weaving your concepts (dreams) into a functional fabric of operating programs.

Gerald Peters
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2005
I found this book to be an excellent introduction to dynamic web programming. It doesn't go into too much detail on how to build specialized web applications, but it will show you how to do just about everything you will need to get started (e.g. registering, authenticating a user, creating pages accessible to users based on user level which you define, updating databases, etc.). It not only shows how to get Dreamweaver to write code for you, it also shows you how to write code yourself to creat pages to manage content.

It would be a good idea to be familiar with XHTML first. Before starting on this book, I went through "HTML & XHTML: The Complete Reference (Osborne Complete Reference Series)" (ISBN 007222942X), which I find also to be a good reference. I wouldn't sell my copy of either of these books at this point. If you're familiar with XHTML, you will get more out of Bardzell's book.

Some areas of improvement: I was using ASP VB Script because it was convenient (I was running IIS), but if I were to choose PHP, which I would have liked to do, then things would have been more complicated. He should tell you how to run a php server (for dynamic content) along with IIS, but says that it is beyond the scope of the book.

Despite this, the book is outstanding.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2004
This book is great for someone who has been teaching themselves web design. This book helped me go from using out-dated HTML 4.0 code to XHTML in a matter of a few days. A must have book for anyone learning web design.
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